Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Rodent Report

Was awoken by doorman ringing me for exterminator who was down in lobby. Told neighbor I would accompany him into her apartment since I would be home. I am not terribly lucid within the first few minutes of waking up; is anyone? This is especially so if I don't get my much-needed eight hours. So it took a good five minutes of a modified, "Who's on first" routine with the doorman this morning, given the language barrier and my general level of confusion, sans-caffeine.

"Miss Stephanie, the exterminator, he is here, Heather say you have problem? He is in lobby now."

"OK, can you have him wait a little while?" I was in my nightgown, and I needed a few minutes to get dressed and walk the dog.

"He is here now. You need him, yes?"

"Yes, I need him. But can he wait a few minutes?"

"He is here now, you need him?"

"Yes," voice rising, "But I need a few minutes. Will he be in the building for a while?"

"He is in the building right now."

"I understand that. I am asking whether he will be here for a little while. Could he come up in a few minutes?" Voice was really rising at this point.

"Heather say you need him? Do you not need him?"

"YES," really losing my patience now; Heather and I think this doorman is either playing dumb or on serious narcotics. He is always out of it; barely opens the door for anyone, except around holiday time (when tips are customary). "I NEED HIM. I JUST NEED A FEW MINUTES. WILL HE BE AROUND?"

This went on for a good ten minutes, swear to God. Eventually I ran into the exterminator in the lobby. He was the one who was here over the summer, when they found a fucking family in my radiator and I completely flipped out and went to the suburbs to stay with a friend.

I ushered him up to my apartment, told him that I wasn't necessarily having an issue, but since my friend was, and I knew the building had a problem, I wanted him to check everything out. Plus, I told him, there is constant construction in the hood.

"I remember you from the summer. I swear, your's was the only apartment in the whole building I found live ones in."

Am I the luckiest girl on earth or what?

"Well, I don't really buy that, as I know the whole building has been having problems."

"That may be, but, your's was the only one where I actually saw them. This building really isn't that bad."

OK, whatever, tell that to my nerves. "Now, I'm going to ask you to do me a favor," I said, as I let him into my apartment. He looked at me warily; I can only imagine the shit this guy has seen in his career as an NYC exterminator. "If you do find anything, just don't tell me. I really don't think I want to know. If you find something in the radiators, please just fix it and don't tell me."

He looked at me like I was a serial killer. "I've never heard that one before."

"Really? Well, I just don't think I could rest at all knowing they are still here." I'm not a subscriber to the ignorance-is-bliss school of thought, but in this case, I'd prefer denial. Thankfully, all was ok in my abode (am knocking on wood at the very moment). Heather was not so lucky though, and her pain is mine right now.

And this is what he told me, as I followed him around both apartments:

• They only need 1/4 of an inch opening—hence my steel wool in every last crevice.

• They do tend to stay away from the pipes in the winter when the heat is on, but since they only need the smallest of openings, there are no guarantees.

• If the droppings are "moist," they are fresh; if they are hard/crunchy they are old. Ewwwwwwwwww.

• They are warned off by the scent of cat food. Actually, I have known this since the last incident. Wally has been dining on Fancy Feast for the past few months. He's perfectly happy. Ignorance is bliss.